The first of the Irish Classics – the Irish 2,000 Guineas – takes place at The Curragh on Saturday, with a field of 11 chasing the top prize of €285,000 (about $248,000).
There’s strong UK representation in Hi Royal and Royal Scotsman, who were second and third respectively in the English equivalent at Newmarket, while the home challenge is led by three Aidan O’Brien runners – but our expert is siding with another member of that family to land the spoils.
Odds are courtesy of Betfred, correct at the time of publishing and are subject to change.
Odds correct at time of publishing and may be subject to change.
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Connections of Chaldean have opted against travelling to The Curragh in search of a Guineas double, which leaves fellow Newmarket podium finishers Hi Royal (second) and Royal Scotsman (third) – as well as the fourth home Galeron and Charyn (eighth) – to put that Rowley Mile form to the test.
Galeron was a 150/1 poke in that race and was hampered early on before coming home in good fashion as best of the rest behind the front three. Charlie Hills has secured the services of Colin Keane for this contest, which is a major plus, and the partnership has to be respected.
Also a fancy price at Newmarket was 125/1 shot Hi Royal, who made the running under Oisin Murphy and fended off all bar the impressive winner. Kevin Ryan’s charge may well make a similar front-running bid now and won’t mind the predicted quicker surface.
Splitting the pair at Newmarket was Royal Scotsman for Paul and Oliver Cole. He was merely underpinning a fine body of work from last season, which included winning the Richmond Stakes at Glorious Goodwood and a close second to Chaldean in the Dewhurst, and he’s sure to be prominent in the betting and where it matters as Jamie Spencer takes over in the saddle.
Like his father and older brother Joseph, Donnacha O’Brien has taken well to life as a trainer. He won an Irish Derby and an Epsom Oaks in the saddle and the second phase of his career got off to a flyer with a trio of Group 1 wins in 2020.
He had to wait for another, but it came when PROUD AND REGAL won the Criterium International at Saint-Cloud back in the autumn.
The Galileo colt had earlier been second here to Al Riffa in the National Stakes over 7f (soft). Al Riffa was the leading ante-post contender for this race before Joseph O’Brien ruled him out last week.
Proud And Regal moved well for a long way on his comeback in a Derby trial at Leopardstown at the start of this month before seemingly failing to get home.
The Jessica Harrington-trained winner Sprewell is a leading contender for Epsom, but it’s not surprising to find Proud and Regal reverting to a mile now and he is match-sharp this time. Gavin Ryan’s mount could be the one to give the latest O’Brien handler a breakout Classic success.
Selection: Proud And Regal @ 9/2 with Betfred
If Donnacha O’Brien is going to get than win, he will have to see off a trio of contenders from father Aidan, who sends out three runners – Age Of Kings, Cairo and PADDINGTON – in his quest for a record-extending 12th success in the race.
The last-named is the mount of Ryan Moore and has won three on the trot since being well held on his debut in September at Ascot.
The wins came over 7f at this track in October and at Naas in March, before a course-and-distance success this month. He is progressing with each run and it has to be probable that he can continue to do so on better ground. He should be in the mix for Ballydoyle.
Selection: Paddington @ 4/1 with Betfred
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Leading horse racing advisor Andrew Mount is a contributor to the Racing Post, Racing Post Weekender, Racing & Football Outlook and the GG.co.u